04 Oct Upward Green: A Closer Look at Vertical Gardens
Reminiscent of a ‘Modern Day Babylon’, vertical gardens will make any minimalist swoon. Refusing the traditional pots and soil, these green artscapes provide sleek simplicity and seem to defy gravity. The trend is a result of arduous research and thoughtful design, and the main focus is to maximize space and integrate nature into even the most unassuming spaces.
MEET THE NEW URBAN GREEN
As the trend has been slowly creeping into the US mainstream, you’ll find some pretty good local projects with upward greenery (such as that mossy wall at Whole Foods in Downtown Austin that I absolutely love). However, vertical gardens haven’t quite burst onto the design scene as they have in Europe and Asia. The trend has been growing stronger overseas for the last decade and it’s been broadly featured in international residential and commercial projects. From tiny city apartments to massive commercial complexes, vertical gardens have proven to enhance the look and composition of the space, while also bringing in a refreshing sensation of nature indoors.
From rustic spaces to more modern settings, vertical gardens add to any living space by infusing life and freshness through lush greenery. This refreshing modality of living art has become the focal point in numerous new buildings and apartments, and a staple in natural integration in European cities. Back in the US, international design exponents and lifestyle advocates are bringing some incredible projects to high-visibility venues and, thus, spreading the green fever. Designers such as Patrick Blanc, who wrote the book on Vertical Gardens, has visited cities like New York, Phoenix and Miami to bring his captivating work.
Back in the US, international design exponents and lifestyle advocates are bringing some incredible projects to high-visibility venues and, thus, spreading the green fever. Designers such as Patrick Blanc, who wrote the book on Vertical Gardens, has visited cities like New York, Phoenix and Miami to bring his captivating work.
THE MAN BEHIND THE GREEN WALLS
Patrick Blanc, a renowned French botanist, is in big part responsible for the vertical garden revolution. Born in Paris in ’53, he has thoroughly explored the trend, working for the French National Centre for Scientific Research. Although Blanc did not invent the vertical garden, he is a distinguished ‘green engineer’, responsible for modernizing and popularizing the trend. His work is recognized globally; some of my favorite works by Blanc include the MoMA wall in New York and the Rolex boutique in Milan.
NOTABLE VERTICAL GARDENS AROUND THE WORLD
1988 Museum of Science and Industry | Paris
1998 Fondation Cartier | Paris
2000 Aquarium of Genoa | Italy
2003 Marithé & François Girbaud boutique | Manhattan
2003 French Embassy in New Delhi
2004 Green façade at the Administrative building of the Quai Branly Museum | Paris
2004 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art Kanazawa, Japan
2005 Siam Paragon shopping center | Bangkok
2008 Arch at the roundabout at the Grand Theatre of Provence at Aix-en-Provence
2008 Galeria Przymorze, shopping centre Gdansk, Poland
2008 Melbourne Central Shopping Centre | Australia
2009 The Athenaeum Hotel, Piccadilly | London, UK
2010 Ronald Lu & Partners | Hong Kong
2014 Central Park | Sydney
“DUE TO MAINTAINING THE APPEARANCE OF A LIVING, BREATHING BUILDING, ENCASED WITH PLANTS ALL ALONG THE WALLS, VERTICAL GARDENS COULD BE ONE OF THE BIGGEST COST-EFFECTIVE WAYS TO HELP THE ENVIRONMENT. ON TOP OF THIS, THE GENERAL PUBLIC CAN ALSO BENEFIT FROM THE CREATIONS – CREATING A MORE POSITIVE MENTALITY.”
The Guiness world record for highest vertical garden installation was shattered last summer by The Green House, by City Developments Limited, a massive structure in Singapore towering at 7,500 sqft. The gargantuan building is far from an ordinary skyscraper, with an impressive eco-friendly wall of greenery that could save Singapore up to $778,000 in energy and water consumption. “With the eco-inspired Tree House, CDL has not only created a place where residents are proud to call home, but more importantly, a green icon which places Singapore on the world map.” said Mr Kwek Leng Joo, the deputy chairman of the project.
MORE OF THIS GREAT TREND
As many thriving city cores across the US continue to rapidly develop, and the love for square footage is overthrown by the thrill of desirably located real estate, smaller and more efficient condos and apartments are definitely in order. It behooves us to promote smarter and more innovative green elements in our living space and, as we stand on the threshold of huge urban transformation, I’d love to see more architects and builders bring the outside in. Pet safe (and somewhat kid-friendly), vertical gardens are not only perfectly aligned with an organic diet, but also offer the countless psychological benefits of indoor vegetation.
My husband will regret me having written this article; a trip to The Home Depot is definitely in his near future…